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Author Topic: 4.00 | Acceptance, when our parent has BPD  (Read 16541 times)
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« on: January 29, 2010, 01:45:03 PM »

Acceptance, when our parent has BPD

This workshop supports Survivors' Guide found in the right hand panel of Healing from a Relationship with a Parent, Relative, or InLaw with BPD. It is item 18. Here is a summary of that step (click here)

       This step involves making a decision about resolving the issues left over from your childhood abuse with those who abused you and/or failed to protect you: your parents/abusers. The important task in this step is to resolve the abuse with your family in a way that is acceptable to you. You have the right to choose how to do this. It is not mandatory to confront your parents, family or abusers, although many survivors find confrontation valuable. However, you want to maintain a relationship with your parents/abusers without hiding your recovery efforts or denying your new identity as a recovered survivor, you probably will need to do something. And, if there is to be a continuing relationship, your parents/abusers will need to accept you as you now desire to be accepted: with respect, consideration and acknowledgement of the burdens you have overcome. ... .read 2 more paragraphs here

Our possible attachments to our BPD parent(s) are many. They include the obvious ones, such as love, obligation, fear, guilt, habit, hurt, financial and other sorts of dependency, pity, affection, and more.

But they also include ones that are not so obvious, such as anger and hope.

Anger at the abuse a BPD parent inflicted on us and the self-centered parenting many of us endured is natural and part of the process of recovery.

Hope that our parent will change and become the mother or father we have longed for is deeply woven through us. We may not realize how much hope and anger we're holding on to and how those attachments may be holding back our own recovery.

Ironically, it keeps us attached to our past and in some cases, to our parent.
 
This workshop explores the idea of acceptance and the different meanings and related emotions to those raised in an abusive environment. Acceptance may anger, frighten, or free you. How you choose to regard and/or act is very personal.
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2010, 01:47:08 PM »

I have surrendered any expectation of being mothered by my uBPDm the way I’ve wanted or needed. I don’t fully understand what my intentions are in choosing to maintain contact with her.

I’m on guard for dangers inherent with ongoing contact with her and I try to manage MY behaviour so that I don’t act in a way that I’ll hurt by her, no matter what she does. 

I cannot see many positive characteristics in my mother! However, recently, I’ve developed some empathy for her and how she was parented by my likely uBPD grandmother.

As long as I remain within my boundaries in my relationship with her... .limiting my conversations with her to when I’m at my strongest, discussing only safe topics, forgiving myself when no matter what I say or do triggers her, and keeping open communications with my healthy extended FOO so that we’re not hoodwinked by her, I’m ok. If this is close to acceptance or forgiveness, the key for me has been finally accepting that MY MOTHER IS MENTALLY ILL and not expecting, from her,  illness-acknowledgement, willingness to take responsibility, change/improvement, or apologies.
 
As I’m typing, I’m just realizing why I maintain contact with her. Somewhere deep down, I think that I still believe that she has love, on her terms, for me. The love is CERTAINLY not on my terms, but it’s all she’s capable of providing, all she knows how to do. Hope I can remember all this the next time I’m in the middle of one of her crazy tirades.
 
If this is not acceptance, what steps do I need to take to get there?
 
I need to add that I am not excusing her behaviour.  Ultimately, her behaviour IS her responsibility.  It's just that I no longer expect her to change.  I've given up. I will deal with her the way she is.
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2010, 02:06:16 PM »

If this is not acceptance, what steps do I need to take to get there?

Acceptance for me is both intellectual and emotional. There are probably many, many ways to define acceptance. Here's a definition:
 
       Acceptance usually refers to cases where a person experiences a situation or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. The term is used in spirituality, in Eastern religious concepts such as Buddhist mindfulness, and in human psychology. Religions and psychological treatments often suggest the path of acceptance when a situation is both disliked and unchangeable, or when change may be possible only at great cost or risk.

For me, applying to a parent with BPD, "not trying to change, protest, or exit" means not trying to change the person with BPD. Drawing from personal experience, I had no power to change this (disliked and unchangeable  ) circumstance. There's lots I can change that's in my power, including level of contact, the strictness of boundaries, and my own behavior.
 
If this is close to acceptance or forgiveness, the key for me has been finally accepting that MY MOTHER IS MENTALLY ILL and not expecting, from her,  illness-acknowledgement, willingness to take responsibility, change/improvement, or apologies.

That sounds like the intellectual part--a realization of what you can rationally expect.
 
As I’m typing, I’m just realizing why I maintain contact with her. Somewhere deep down, I think that I still believe that she has love, on her terms, for me. The love is CERTAINLY not on my terms, but it’s all she’s capable of providing, all she knows how to do. Hope I can remember all this the next time I’m in the middle of one of her crazy tirades.

That sounds like the emotional part. There's some value in the relationship for you, with full realization of the limits.
 
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2010, 02:44:35 PM »

I have surrendered any expectation of being mothered by my uBPDm the way I’ve wanted or needed.

It is one thing to realize this intellectually.  It is a whole 'nother thing to realize this emotionally.  Just because you no longer expect her to be the mother you've always wanted or needed, doesn't mean you suddenly stop having those wants and needs.  In fact, until you work out a new way to meet your wants and needs (ie, take care of yourself) you might still feel the occasional draw to uBPDm.

I don’t fully understand what my intentions are in choosing to maintain contact with her.  

It could be a lot of things.  It could be the extended family that she might try to rip away from you if you should cut her off.  It could be the distortion campaign that at least unconsciously you might be anticipating (technically this is Fear from F.O.G.).

I’m on guard for dangers inherent with ongoing contact with her and I try to manage MY behaviour so that I don’t act in a way that I’ll hurt by her, no matter what she does.

That is a challenging choice.  As long as you know who you are dancing with.  In my experience, distance and formality are your best allies.

However, recently, I’ve developed some empathy for her and how she was parented by my likely uBPD grandmother. As long as I remain within my boundaries in my relationship with her... .limiting my conversations with her to when I’m at my strongest, discussing only safe topics, forgiving myself when no matter what I say or do triggers her, and keeping open communications with my healthy extended FOO so that we’re not hoodwinked by her, I’m ok.

Just pay attention to how much effort and energy you are spending to maintain your boundaries.  Make sure you are replenishing yourself through your own self maintenance.  Keep it mind that it is when we feel the strongest and happiest that the deepest habits and unconscious behaviors may surface.  Beware of self-sabotage.

If this is close to acceptance or forgiveness, the key for me has been finally accepting that MY MOTHER IS MENTALLY ILL and not expecting, from her,  illness-acknowledgement, willingness to take responsibility, change/improvement, or apologies.

Bingo.  She has her choices.  You have yours.

As I’m typing, I’m just realizing why I maintain contact with her. Somewhere deep down, I think that I still believe that she has love, on her terms, for me. The love is CERTAINLY not on my terms, but it’s all she’s capable of providing, all she knows how to do. Hope I can remember all this the next time I’m in the middle of one of her crazy tirades.

I think she probably does.  Just realize that her disorder has limited her development of how she can express "love."  She may not be able to do it outside of her own emotional needs (ie, self-sacrifice, doing what is right even though it is hard, etc... .).  And it is terribly difficult to unravel your own innate expectations as her offspring, from what you intellectually understand of she is or is not capable of doing.

If this is not acceptance, what steps do I need to take to get there?

Hmmm... .time and practice.  And lots of taking care of yourself.  You might consider looking at the "Survivors Guide" over on the right side of your browser.

I need to add that I am not excusing her behaviour.  Ultimately, her behaviour IS her responsibility.  It's just that I no longer expect her to change.  I've given up. I will deal with her the way she is.

I think that is the most healthy position you can take for yourself.

Best wishes, Schwing
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2010, 10:29:29 PM »

Below is a transcript of Marsha Linehan speaking about acceptance - her term "radical" means "the totality of things". She explains it acceptance better than I can.  Being cool (click to insert in post)
 
RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.[/color]
dbtselfhelp.com/html/radical_acceptance.html
 
FROM SUFFERING TO FREEDOM: PRACTICING REALITY ACCEPTANCE
 
Have you ever wondered why some people get destroyed by suffering, and other people, when they suffer, they don't get destroyed. In fact, some people not only don't get destroyed by suffering, but they... .they seem to become even stronger just by going through suffering.  Have you ever thought about that?
 
Well, I didn't think about for a long time because I was brought up believing that suffering is something everybody can go through.  So I was just brought up thinking that. So I always thought it was true. That if you wanted to go through it, you could.
 
Then when I started working with people who suffer a lot, both as a psychotherapist but also I've worked a lot with the poor and with the homeless, I started realizing, hey wait a minute, I'm not so sure this is true. Everybody doesn't go through suffering.  Some people get destroyed by suffering. Despite their best efforts, some people simply get destroyed.
 
So I started asking myself what was the difference.  I mean, what was the difference between the person who gets destroyed and the person who doesn't. Why is it that when some people get knocked down, they keep going. They get knocked down, they get up, and they go again. Other people, they get knocked down and they just stay down; they never get up.  

... .read the answer
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2010, 10:34:25 PM »

What I have trouble understanding is if they are so bound by their disorder how do they have the ability to change how they appear to different people? I have seen my uBPDm change on a dime because she didn't want to look bad to a certain person but then reverted right back to "normal" once that person was gone. They choose how far to go, how much of their "crazy" can be seen by whom.  ?
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2010, 10:44:39 PM »

Wow Skip. That is a very helpful article.

What I have trouble understanding is if they are so bound by their disorder how do they have the ability to change how they appear to different people? I have seen my uBPDm change on a dime because she didn't want to look bad to a certain person but then reverted right back to "normal" once that person was gone. They choose how far to go, how much of their "crazy" can be seen by whom.  ?

This is a good observation.

They change "how they appear to different people" because as I understand it, they do not have a fixed personality.  This is often why, nobody ever quite sees what we see in our BPD loved one, because technically everyone sees something different.

What is consistent about BPD personalities, is the closer you are to them, the more their inappropriate and intense emotions (ie, fear of abandonment) get triggered.  And this is why family members and partners usually bare the brunt of their disordered behaviors.  

When you can limit how close they feel towards you, then you can limit the degree of their dysregulation.
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2010, 06:37:08 AM »

Excerpt
Acceptance usually refers to cases where a person experiences a situation or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. The term is used in spirituality, in Eastern religious concepts such as Buddhist mindfulness, and in human psychology. Religions and psychological treatments often suggest the path of acceptance when a situation is both disliked and unchangeable, or when change may be possible only at great cost or risk.

My take on acceptance and judgement:

I hope I'm not completely missing the point here, or hijacking the thread, but part of the reason I was abused so badly when I was a child/teenager was that no-one (e.g. my dad, our doctor, a social worker) tried to challenge, change or protest against my uBPD/NPD mother's behaviour. There was too much acceptance.

Other people in our neighbourhood accepted our house was a warzone because my dad was schizophrenic. Other adults tolerated my mother's behaviour because they made allowances for her because she had a sick husband. I accepted this argument for too long, and made excuses for her. Now, as an adult who would love a family of my own, I do not accept that. I do not see how a mother could systematically and repeatedly hurt and neglect her own children under any circumstances.

(I don't want to access or understand the sick stuff that was going on in her head at the time, that is the job of a qualified, detached psychiatrist)

In society we often campaign against racism, bullying, domestic abuse under the banner 'zero tolerance'. It is a great, empowering slogan because it is about not accepting a situation, not looking for excuses, just saying 'enough is enough'... .saying that as a civilised society we are not tolerating abuses of power. There are some things which we should be judgemental about on behalf of others who may not have a voice.


As a child I did not have a voice. No-one judged my mother. Even now, her behaviour causes a great deal of harm to my dad, acquaintances and extended family, partly because she got away with so much when she was younger - no-one with any authority has ever been clear with her that her behaviour is anti-social, cruel and not acceptable.

Someone should have challenged her, threatened to take her children away, or made her face police questioning, or thrown her out of the teaching profession. (If someone had intervened early, maybe just support as opposed to judgement would have been enough, who knows? But they didn't do that either)

Who should do the 'accepting' when child abuse/child misery is going on? (Or when it has gone on in the past?) Surely not doctors, spouses, observant teachers, social workers. Then why should I, as the target of it? Even retrospectively.

Violent criminals still get trials and sentences, even if they get caught twenty years on. No-one expects society (or their families) to try and understand them or accept them the way they are. No-one says 'well they probably have anti-social PD or some other Cluster B personality disorder, let's go easy on them'. The pursuit of justice (which involves making judgements) is an important thing. In my view that is not the same as vengeance or retribution. It is about signalling to wider society that when bad things happen, mature healthy adults must do all they can to show that certain behaviour is not acceptable and intervene to protect those who are vulnerable from it.

My view is that we have to judge others sometimes for the wider good. We 'live and let live' at the peril of vulnerable people and children. Twenty-five years ago those vulnerable people were my brother and I. Twenty-five years on we are both still traumatised.

I hope nobody finds my rant/polemic offensive. It is not aimed at an individual poster: I am just trying to make sense of how I feel about the issues raised in this thread.

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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2010, 07:02:36 AM »

Thanks Skip.

During my time with my T, I used to 'forgive' my foo with BPD issues because they were 'crazy'.  However, that didn't help.  For me, I had jumped to the 'forgiveness and understanding' end of the spectrum before I placed the responsibility, blame squarely where it belonged, on the shoulders of my parents, and, in some ways, my older sister.  

While I'm at it, I also blame my extended foo, the culture and any 'authority' figures who watched the crazy go on and ignored it.  Letting me live in h&*l was wrong and if anyone could have intervened and didn't, then they deserve blame as well.  

And I 'shouldered' the blame.  Literally,  I put it in my left arm. Until just a couple of weeks ago.  And I blamed God for 'sticking me' in this crazy, abusive family.  I never gave the crazy abusive grown ups the credit they so deserved.  Yes, they have mental illnesses, BUT I was a kid.  I didn't deserve to put the blame on me or God either.  I knew in my gut they were crazy.  And especially my mother who couldn't control her suicidal depression.  But I couldn't either.

I think the lake thing makes sense once you've gone through the muck and mud and swamp of yelling, screaming and putting the blame and responsiblity where it belongs.

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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2010, 08:22:55 AM »

I hope nobody finds my rant/polemic offensive. It is not aimed at an individual poster: I am just trying to make sense of how I feel about the issues raised in this thread.

There are 21 steps in the Survivor's guide. Everyone makes the journey differently.  Our view of things also changes as we progress through our own recovery and healing (steps) - I know mine certainly did.  Frankly, I could not have rationalized or even imagined back in the early stages that I would feel the way I do now.  As I look back, I can see all the stages and progressions I went through.  Looking back is easy - looking forward, impossible.
 
I say this only to suggest that we will unnecessarily torture ourselves if we put the burden on ourselves to rationalize everyones different perspectives with our own at one time and space.   
 
I had jumped to the 'forgiveness and understanding' end of the spectrum before I placed the responsibility, blame squarely where it belonged, on the shoulders of my parents, and, in some ways, my older sister. 

How many of us have made this same mistake?  I know I moved to acceptance before I processed my anger and had to go back and reprocess it - at the time I really had no guide like we have here on many of the different boards.  Since, I've read a lot about grieving - it's so important to go through the stages  - and so damaging when we don't.  Too much anger for too long is bad.  No enough anger is bad too.  We have to go through the process if we are to have a chance of truly healing.
 
  • Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
  • Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
  • Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
  • Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
  • Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
  • Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.

The Abuse survivors guide is far more complex than this grieving this model.  It's a far more complex process.   

I think that I get this and if I do, might this ‘state’ be considered acceptance? Or what?
 
I have surrendered any expectation of being mothered by my uBPDm the way I’ve wanted or needed. I don’t fully understand what my intentions are in choosing to maintain contact with her.

Are you nearing Step 18?  Or are you where joiesophie was?  Have you been through much of what is discussed in the earlier stages? 
 
Looking at that might help putting where you are right now in perspective. You can click on each and get a further explanation |click here|
 
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2010, 08:48:33 AM »

I'm truly thankful for all of you, here. I so appreciate your comments and insights. 

Wow... .I need to take some time, now, to think about all of this.
 
Skip, thanks for the adjustment to this subject.
 
Studying the Survivors Guide, I know that I've moved past remembering, and I see myself in parts of mourning AND healing.

Is that possible, do you think? (Rhetorical question).
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2010, 08:49:00 AM »

Excerpt
The pursuit of justice (which involves making judgements) is an important thing. In my view that is not the same as vengeance or retribution. It is about signalling to wider society that when bad things happen, mature healthy adults must do all they can to show that certain behaviour is not acceptable and intervene to protect those who are vulnerable from it.
 
My view is that we have to judge others sometimes for the wider good. We 'live and let live' at the peril of vulnerable people and children.

I agree with this very much.
 
I think that in trying to explain the behaviour of the BPD person, lots of people make the mistake of saying, "well, she's sick, it's just how she is" and then jump to "tolerate it." That's excuse-making and it's wrong - they may be sick, but certain actions are morally wrong, not permissible in our society, and they must not be allowed to perpetrate them, just as sexually disordered people are not allowed to molest minors, people with kleptomania are still not permitted to steal, and so on.
 
But acceptance as I understand it is, "this person does disordered, harmful things and is NOT capable of having the kind of relationship I want to have with her." It's not condoning. It's just seeing them as they are. Accepting that they are disordered and commit evil acts is the first step in protecting yourself. Once you understand that you are in danger and will always be in danger from this person, you can do something about it.
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2010, 09:30:09 AM »

Excerpt
But acceptance as I understand it is, "this person does disordered, harmful things and is NOT capable of having the kind of relationship I want to have with her." It's not condoning. It's just seeing them as they are. Accepting that they are disordered and commit evil acts is the first step in protecting yourself. Once you understand that you are in danger and will always be in danger from this person, you can do something about it.

That's how it's been working for me. It was when I really let go of any idea that my mother would find a way to meet my needs, and that in fact through her disorder she was going to continue to be harmful to me and my own family, including my vulnerable child, that I began to accept her. It sounds weird. Maybe another word would help... .see her? Perceive her? Release her? 
 
Acceptance also coincided with NC for me, but the acceptance continues to develop. Without acceptance--this is who she IS, she will not change--I probably would have tried to resume contact and would be focusing my energy on my mother rather than on myself.
 
I've worked through remembering, mourning, and healing in an iterative process. For example, because I have a lot of traumatic memory loss, I still get taken by surprise by remembering (step 4, I shall re-experience each set of memories... .), even though I've worked on it a lot. EMDR, supportive therapy, being here, and mindfulness practice have helped enormously as I've "re-experienced each set of memories as they surface in my mind."
 
I also am working on step 12, "facing my shame and developing self-compassion." Come a long way, but more to go. Step 19, "I hold my own meaning about the abuse that releases me from the legacy of the past" feels really close, and that feels really good. It's such a relief.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
 
Skip's point about releasing ourselves from the burden of taking on other people's perspectives with our own in any given moment is part of it for me. My sister and I don't have the same view, sometimes. I have felt so freed by remembering that "I hold my own meaning." A lot of us were not given the opportunity to hold our own meaning. As the Survivors' Guide suggests, I'm taking it. 
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2010, 09:59:37 AM »

Without acceptance--this is who she IS, she will not change
Exactly. I think the important distinction is, acceptance of the FACT of their nature, not acceptance of the actions they commit.

And emotional acceptance is something that I think comes in bits, slowly, over time. I too find it easier to say it to myself intellectually "mom will not change, she's made it very clear" than to truly let go of her and all my hopes and need for her, in my heart.

I think maybe feeling the hope, the need and the extent of being let down and unfulfilled is the first step. Being conscious of the emotional need for what the mother will never be is a way to know truly how much she has NOT been there, and a way to start looking for fulfillment somewhere else.
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2010, 12:10:10 PM »

Excerpt
Even if we come to accept that a lion will act like a lion acts, there is still a responsibility to make sure that no one is left alone in the cage with the lion, you know?

I agree, absolutely.

I wonder if we're talking about several things here, but using the same word?

Here are some ways I see the word acceptance as relevant in a discussion like this. Others may see it in different ways.

Acceptance of abuse --> No.

Acceptance of excuses for abusive behavior --> No.

Acceptance of the BPD relative in your life --> very personal decision (whether, how much, under what circumstances)

Acceptance that the BPD relative in our life is who he/she is and is not likely to change --> pretty different idea, one that I've found personally freeing

B&W

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« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2010, 01:38:21 PM »

Wow, this is a great thread.  I'm so glad we're continuing this discussion.

This reminds me a lot of a discussion I had about Taoism, actually, which advocates acceptance in various ways.  My sister said it sounded like passivity, just accepting the the fact that, for example, water is flooding your house.  I said, no, Taoism says that if you're going to keep the water from flooding your house you have to understand how water works, what principles it follows, then you can build an effective system to protect yourself from its effects. 

It's easier to understand in the abstract than to know how to implement in your own life, that's for sure!

I think part of what makes this kind of acceptance hard for someone who has a BPD parent is that, at least in my case, they are always telling you overtly that they will change if you just do what they want!  Since I was a small kid, I was always aware that if I just didn't keep making Mommy mad, she would love me and things would be all right for both of us.  It's extremely difficult to unlearn all those years of training.  To this day, my mom does this constantly, she's constantly telling me how she's going to change, she's going to do all these things differently.  I don't think we've had a single conversation since I have become an adult where she didn't say something along these lines.  I don't believe her at this point, but I think it's added to this idea I have that she *could* change if she wanted to, she just isn't trying hard enough or doesn't love me enough or I haven't tried hard enough to understand her better, or to help her more, or whatever.  No matter how much I try to unlearn these expectations, I don't seem to be able to.  Even when I think I have, I find them coming back up when we interact.  I really don't know how to be in a relationship with someone where I tell them what I want, they agree, and then go on to do something completely different.  Especially when there's this extremely painful history of out of control behavior, disappointment, abandonment and enmeshment and guilt and regret.  I have an extremely hard time seeing how I can have a relationship with this person who has hurt me so much, manage not to expect her to be kind or thoughtful or interested in my life, remain sufficiently on guard that I don't allow her to hurt me, and still manage to get something of value out of the relationship.  I don't see what there is left in such a relationship to hope for - if she's never going to be "there for me", and I'm never going to be able to let my guard down around her, what are we doing even talking to each other?
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2010, 02:22:34 PM »

I have an extremely hard time seeing how I can have a relationship with this person who has hurt me so much, manage not to expect her to be kind or thoughtful or interested in my life, remain sufficiently on guard that I don't allow her to hurt me, and still manage to get something of value out of the relationship.

That's exactly how I feel about my mother. Even if she hadn't disowned me, what could I expect from being involved with her other than pain?

But that's what facing the truth is - looking all of this in the face and saying, this is how things are. And they suck. So what can I do about them?

Reading this makes me so sad, for all of us who have gone through such difficult, painful times and have to ultimately give up on a parent. People who haven't been through this can't understand what it's like.
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2010, 08:55:27 PM »

"Acceptance is a dynamic act. It should not signal inertness, stagnation, or inactivity. One should simply ascertain what the situation requires and then implement what one thinks is best.  As long as one's deeds are in accord with the time and one leaves no sloppy traces, then the action is correct." -Taoist site  

Acceptance is needful. Acceptance that a lake may be dangerous and devouring and sick is a good reason NOT to approach the lake. But it is not the person approaching the lake with a depression that drowns that person. I take offense to this . It is the lake . Like I said in the other post,"The approaching child does not have an ill perception of the lake and therefore drowns. IT is drowned for simply approaching."
 
This is the BPD conundrum.
 
Acceptance for BPD abuse victims is acceptance that though they may desire water or a swim or what not, approaching the lake that only shows abuse is NOT a wise choice. This is true acceptance. Acceptance does not mean approaching that that only seeks to hurt and destroy. This is not acceptance of your own life, own boundaries and own right to life. You can accept your lake (parent) is sick and accept that and work within that context, by maybe viewing the lake from afar, or even approaching the lake but being the one not getting too close to get in the muck of the other person own lazy and sloppy dsyfunction... .but it is NEVER the abused person approaching the lake's problem or perception. And acceptance does not mean compliance. Acceptance means a stronger ability to recognize the lake for what it is and have the ability and strength to look past the siren call of the lake with its various promises and find the true source of water and nurturance where the lake lacked, we look and accept the true areas in our life that can follow through. But acceptance by compliance, is NOT healthy.
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« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2010, 10:39:22 PM »

I have found this discussion fascinating and timely.

In the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to witness my mother from a couple of new angles, and it has been eye-opening and clarifying. I see more clearly that my mother is simply NOT capable of seeing me, hearing me or empathizing with me. It seems I am a mixture of things to her: an extension of herself; a guiding, nurturing parent; a caring and dutiful daughter. When I step outside any of these assigned roles, or her moral framework, she will temporarily "disown" me through demonstrations of disdain or contempt. It's very disempowering and annihilating.

I have known this forever, but not consciously.

In the past there seems to have been a separation of my intellect and my feelings. I have (pretty much) always felt disliked and unloved by my mother. For a couple of decades now I have adopted a detached-ish version of the "guiding, nurturing parent" role. I didn't realize how much the role shaped our interaction. I was so used to the role I didn't see what existed outside of it. I felt ambivalent towards my mother, but also thought our relationship was as 'good' as could be expected.

In light of my recent realizations I feel more sure that I 'know what I am up against'. I am vaguely aware of ditching unconscious hopes that if I can prove myself to be the dutiful, caring daughter she wants (by being the caring, nurturing parent she wanted), she will finally turn into something warm and "mother"-like for me.

It seems to me that this is 'acceptance' of the kind under discussion.

My childhood conditioned me to passively accept all sorts of things as 'just the way it is', and to empathize and understand the perspective of another. I had no idea that relationships were supposed to be a mutual process, with reciprocal empathizing and understanding. I'm still learning to identify signs indicating mutual empathy, respect, compassion and give-and-take. It's very conscious and awkward for me.

I understand intellectually that the passive acceptance I have been conditioned to embody is NOT the same model of acceptance the lake metaphor encapsulates. I grew up with an attitude of 'acceptance' that was the response of a reactive, disempowered pawn in a game controlled by other people. The 'lake' version of acceptance is one in which a person clearly and rationally assesses a situation, and consciously chooses a course of action which achieves the best outcome for him/herself. This is an empowered action, not a passive reaction. It doesn't mean the situation being assessed is ideal, or what one might like, or even tolerable. But it does involve conscious choices in relation to what IS, rather than wishful thinking about what could have been.

I think I'm on the right track in seeing it this way.

However, I also have a LOT of anger towards my mother, and so the 'lake metaphor' is somewhat triggering to me.

It is anger of the self-righteous, indignant, "How Dare You Treat Me/Your Child Like That?" variety. I have enormous amounts of this anger, and I know I cannot express it to my mother - the person to whom I should express it - because it will be incomprehensible to her. I am even angry about that, as it means I need to undergo all sorts of twists and turns within myself to reconcile things within, while she sails on, oblivious. I am angry that I bear the entire responsibility for attempting to heal the emotional damage she caused, whilst not being at all responsible for it occurring.

I shift frequently from one position to another, swirling from anger to acceptance to resentment. Lots of anger. I still experience 'acceptance' as a kind of slippery slope in which I might feel a sense of acceptance, but then need to check whether it is of the 'passive, reacting' variety or the 'conscious evaluation of reality' variety.
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2010, 11:02:58 PM »

Gosh that sounds familiar, Bricolage.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
 
Excerpt
I understand intellectually that the passive acceptance I have been conditioned to embody is NOT the same model of acceptance the lake metaphor encapsulates. I grew up with an attitude of 'acceptance' that was the response of a reactive, disempowered pawn in a game controlled by other people. The 'lake' version of acceptance is one in which a person clearly and rationally assesses a situation, and consciously chooses a course of action which achieves the best outcome for him/herself. This is an empowered action, not a passive reaction. It doesn't mean the situation being assessed is ideal, or what one might like, or even tolerable. But it does involve conscious choices in relation to what IS, rather than wishful thinking about what could have been.

Wonderfully explained distinction.
 
Excerpt
However, I also have a LOT of anger towards my mother, and so the 'lake metaphor' is somewhat triggering to me.

Makes sense. Feeling our anger at being abused is a necessary part of recovering. It's not something we can skip over or around. I tried for a long time; didn't work.   It's integral to the steps in the Survivors' Guide to the right (see steps 6 and 10, for example).
 
Excerpt
I shift frequently from one position to another, swirling from anger to acceptance to resentment. Lots of anger. I still experience 'acceptance' as a kind of slippery slope in which I might feel a sense of acceptance, but then need to check whether it is of the 'passive, reacting' variety or the 'conscious evaluation of reality' variety.

I'm sure it's rather uncomfortable, but it sounds like you're working through a really important process. How do you do the "check" (passive versus conscious) version of acceptance? What's your thought or other process to figure that out?
 
BTW, in case some haven't seen it, we have a workshop on respecting our anger:
 
Excerpt
US - Respecting our anger
 
Anger is a natural reaction to child abuse at the hands of a BPD parent. Yet, as survivors, we have a hard time managing our anger--or even recognizing that we are angry or hearing the "don't tread on me" messages our anger provides. As children, we were not able to express the anger safely in our family. Where did that anger from the past go? Most survivors turn the anger against themselves. This pattern could be a major reason for our difficulties as adults. Learn more:
 
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=135831

B&W
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« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2010, 03:50:47 AM »

I'm sure it's rather uncomfortable, but it sounds like you're working through a really important process. How do you do the "check" (passive versus conscious) version of acceptance? What's your thought or other process to figure that out?

That's a really good question, B&W.

I am in the early stages of this process, so slide in and out of relative awareness/consciousness of it all. The best answer I can offer at this point is that I use the recently discovered 'new angles', along with what I have learned about BPD on this forum and elsewhere, as a reference point. 

If I feel I have some acceptance I try to interrogate the feeling of acceptance firstly to see how familiar it feels, and then to see how well it fits with my new reference point. I have a habitual mode of behaviour which 'accepts' my mother as she is, but still unconsciously hopes for more. This is the familiar, 'passive' acceptance. It is as though I have done the same things over and over, hoping for a different result. (Me, crazy? No!) The reference point & knowledge of BPD reminds me that hoping for more is futile. She WILL NOT see me or respond to my needs, or even accept me as an individual as she CANNOT see me. It is a stark truth which is slowly registering.

Hopefully over time this recognition will solidify (become my primary, conscious perception) and other aspects of my awareness and behaviours will become more congruent with it. I honestly don't know how it will affect our relationship over time.

Do you have any suggestions?

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« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2010, 09:37:57 AM »

If I feel I have some acceptance I try to interrogate the feeling of acceptance firstly to see how familiar it feels, and then to see how well it fits with my new reference point. I have a habitual mode of behaviour which 'accepts' my mother as she is, but still unconsciously hopes for more. This is the familiar, 'passive' acceptance. It is as though I have done the same things over and over, hoping for a different result. (Me, crazy? No!) The reference point & knowledge of BPD reminds me that hoping for more is futile. She WILL NOT see me or respond to my needs, or even accept me as an individual as she CANNOT see me. It is a stark truth which is slowly registering.
 
Hopefully over time this recognition will solidify (become my primary, conscious perception) and other aspects of my awareness and behaviours will become more congruent with it. I honestly don't know how it will affect our relationship over time.
 
Do you have any suggestions?

The reason I said your comments sounded familiar is because I have had periods of that slippage from one perception to another and your description of it really hit home. I can give you some suggestions from my experience and our materials here, and I hope they'll help you as they have me.

I have surrendered any expectation of being mothered by my uBPDm the way I’ve wanted or needed.

 
 
That feeling--coming to expect NOTHING--was critical for me. It kept coming over me in waves, in situation after situation in which I got some distance, emotionally, and watched my mother and my interaction with her. I tried to observe, take a fly on the wall stance, and what I saw was her incapability of mothering with my needs at the forefront or even really in the mix at all. She could mother with her needs at the forefront, but not the other way around.
 
At the same time, I was a new mother myself, so I was playing both roles, of mother and daughter, and had a chance to see how stark the contrast was between child-centered mothering and mother-centered mothering. Child-centered mothering is so unbelievable rewarding, one of life's incredible gifts, and my mother didn't even grasp what she was missing. Somehow, in seeing this contrast, I came to accept that (mother-centered mothering) is all she is ever going to do.
 
I coupled it with... .an inventory sounds too formal, but that's what it was... .of the ways in which I CAN get my needs met, from others in my life and most importantly, by my own doing. For example, my appreciation for my husband deepened so much, because he's given me a lot of "mothering" over the years, which I wasn't really recognizing before. I talked to him about the ways I appreciate him, and I thanked him. Our relationship deepened as a result, and ironically, that helped me get my needs met.
 
Another strategy was to realize the internal tapes I had playing in my head were pushing me toward that "passive acceptance" you describe, which I think is, I think, an expression of a very damaging core belief: "This is all you deserve." There's a shame tape in there, and the grooves are cut deeply. So I've been working on erasing that tape and getting new stories.
 
(The other forms of acceptance we've discussed in this thread, such as society condoning or ignoring abuse, contribute to the core shame belief. It's like when someone is being bullied and nobody stands up and says this is wrong; it strengthens the bully's case and makes the victim feel like he/she deserved it.)
 
Work on "changing the tape" is important. Here's a start on that:
 
STEP ELEVEN
 
I can identify faulty beliefs and distorted perceptions in myself and others.
 
This step is focused on changing the faulty thinking, attitudes and beliefs about yourself and your past that continue to shape your view of the world. Given that the thoughts and attitudes born of your abuse will never really favor you, it is essential that you learn to challenge the internal tapes that are likely still playing in your head.
 
Because our childhood experience has often been extreme, many survivors become victims of our own misconceptions. A few examples of this tendency are--
 
1) splitting everything into good and bad, or "thinking in black and white";
 
2) discrediting the positive aspects of yourself or your efforts: "If it isn't perfect, then it's nothing";
 
3) magical thinking, or attributing some outcomes to factors that are not relevant: "I was born under the wrong stars, so nothing will ever change," or "I got lucky once doing this, so all I need to do is repeat myself";
 
4) basing conclusions on initial impressions or circumstantial evidence rather than balanced objectivity: "I don't know why I did it; I thought this guy had it in for me";
 
5) personalization: assuming responsibility for something caused by other people or factors;
 
6) magnification and minimization: either making something catastrophically important or excessively diminishing its importance. There may be other types of distortions that you still fall prey to, perhaps more out of habit than anything else.
 
First, familiarize yourself with the patterns that you use and practice identifying them when they occur. Then, using your newly-developed self-awareness, stop yourself so that you can short-circuit the patterns before they can do damage to you. Lastly, devise techniques to help you internalize corrected attitudes about yourself.
 
Self-Help
 
1   Journal. Read back over your journal and see what distortions in thinking, perceptions and attitudes you have had about yourself. Notice the obvious patterns. Are there any common themes in these distortions as regards behaviors and feelings?
 
2   Fly on the Wall. The most basic skill for you to learn is the ability to stand back and view events and situations from a broader perspective, so as to become more objective in your perceptions, beliefs and judgments. This skill is essential because this analytical ability is called into play in virtually all aspects of your life. It can make the difference between repeating old habits and choosing new ways of looking at things.
 
3   Investigate and Reality Test. Whenever you uncover some distortion in your thinking, attitudes or beliefs, try to determine the reality of the situation and then use this as a standard against which to evaluate your thought processes. Don't assume you know something when you really don't. You may have to make a particular effort or engage in some specific activity in order to access the information you need. By learning to identify what is objectively true, you can determine the validity of your previously held beliefs and then substitute a less distorted version.
 
4    Share. bpdfamily.com might be a good environment in which to talk about the negative internal tapes that still play in your head. You might also share some of your success in identifying and changing faulty beliefs and distorted perceptions.
 
B&W
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« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2010, 01:50:07 PM »

Acceptance of abuse --> No.

Acceptance of excuses for abusive behavior --> No.

Acceptance of the BPD relative in your life --> very personal decision (whether, how much, under what circumstances)

Acceptance that the BPD relative in our life is who he/she is and is not likely to change --> pretty different idea, one that I've found personally freeing
This is incredibly useful. It is (4) that I desperately want to accept in my heart. My brain accepts it but I think my heart does not want to accept the reality of that fact.

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« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2018, 02:34:12 PM »

I'm going to print this thread out and use it as a reference/guide if I start to slip or get confused.

I have been using "my mother is simply NOT capable of seeing me, hearing me or empathizing with me" as my 'reference point' but I appreciate that you and SGG have explicitly mentioned that this entails a conscious revising of expectations. I'll add this to my 'mantra'.

As you described in your experience, it was an emotional detaching which enabled me to perceive the 'new angles' and to gain fresh perspective. I entered into one discussion in the spirit of conducting an experiment: very mindfully and with a view to seeing how the interaction went, rather than being emotionally engaged in the discussion and attached to the outcome. That was enlightening.

I expect to be whirling around with this for quite some time, particularly given all the anger I have only recently started to allow myself to feel.

I too would love to see a workshop on positive entitlement. I had anorexia as a teenager, and I see this as a physical manifestation of the feeling that I had no right to exist, that I had no right to occupy space, that I had no entitlement to anything, really.

And I am aware that I have a lot of shame, so would appreciate a workshop on that too.

So much to learn, so much to become aware of, so much yet to do.

Here's to the courage, persistence and life spirit of you all  xoxo

- Bricolage
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« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2018, 04:33:57 PM »

Oh!  I really like this!  

I think having one definition of acceptance is important in talking about this subject and I am in agreement with the one offered in reply#2 by blackandwhite:

Acceptance usually refers to cases where a person experiences a situation or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. The term is used in spirituality, in Eastern religious concepts such as Buddhist mindfulness, and in human psychology. Religions and psychological treatments often suggest the path of acceptance when a situation is both disliked and unchangeable, or when change may be possible only at great cost or risk.

Acceptance is an ongoing process for me.  A couple of years ago, I was in the hospital, very sick, scared and more vulnerable than I had been in a long time.  I had a severe infection and I was on heavy pain meds both of which caused me to slip in an out of reality (not sure of the proper term... .let's just say my brains were scrambled a bit) and I saw my mother in my hospital room.  Still don't know if it was a dream or a hallucination.  No matter.  I wanted my mother.  Never mind that she was/is dead, she was so real to me and I wanted her more than anything right then.  I am not sure why.  She was not safe in any way, I could not count on her when I was sick or in times of need, she was not responsible in any way and was incapable of caring for me and was in fact dangerous to me when I was weak like that.  That wanting and longing lasted the next few days as I got better and even for about a week after I got home.  I was experiencing deep grief and depression.  I even posted about it here too and people here helped me to normalize my desire and work out that it was not my mother I wanted but *a* mother.  They helped me with acceptance of something I thought I stopped wanting from my mother a long time ago.

Acceptance is hard and it needs to be worked sometimes continuously.  Like so many things, it is not a passive or static process.  We have to work at it.  Our emotions and the way we look at our history will change over time, often necessitating revisiting of old wounds, needs and desires.  Even since that time in the hospital, there are times when I wish I had a healthy mother but I work on accepting what was/is.  It hurts, I feel grief and anger.  I accept that too as part of the process.  

Acceptance does not mean no hurt and no anger.  Not always.  It is a process and it involves managing expectations:
Somethings gotta give said:  
Excerpt
I have surrendered any expectation of being mothered by my uBPDm the way I’ve wanted or needed.
Bricolage said:  
Excerpt
I have been using "my mother is simply NOT capable of seeing me, hearing me or empathizing with me" as my 'reference point' but I appreciate that you and SGG have explicitly mentioned that this entails a conscious revising of expectations. I'll add this to my 'mantra'.
Yes.  

Stop expecting our pwBPD to be something they are not.
Stop expecting our pwBPD to act in ways they are incapable of acting.
Stop expecting our pwBPD to _____
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« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2018, 08:40:29 PM »

The important task in this step is to resolve the abuse with your family in a way that is acceptable to you

This is no longer possible. They are both deceased. I guess that that doesn’t mean I’m not able to come to terms with it, but the chance of closure died with them. I don’t want to nor feel the need to concoct my own idea of closure. It simply wouldn’t be real. Maybe this is where I need to allow Radical Acceptance do it’s thing.

You have the right to choose how to do this. It is not mandatory to confront your parents, family or abusers, although many survivors find confrontation valuable.

I confronted them and it wasn’t valuable. It caused more damage and self doubt. I’m not advocating for anyone to not confront their abuser/s. I’m simply stating my experience/s. I was gaslighted.

I am most certainly angry at my BPD mother and NPD father. I feel like I was robbed of my innocence. I was damaged by them and the results hurt. Luckily, I didn’t become them. I’m currently a byproduct of who they were and this skin doesn’t fit me so I’m finding some skin that fits me better and is comfy. I’m done with that life and what it had to offer. I’m moving on.




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